FAMILY & YOUTH ANNUAL MEETING AND AWARDS PRESENTATION
The 2015 Family & Youth Annual Meeting and awards presentation was held on June 29, 2015 at L’Auberge Casino Resort. During the event Hannah Pettefer was presented with the Youth of the Year award and Dr. Dogs Pet Therapy was awarded the Humanitarian of the Year Award.
Alyssa Norwood and Jalyn Thomas awarded the Youth of the Year award
Alyssa Norwood graduated from St. Louis Catholic High School in 2016. She began her participation with TLC through the Civic Engagement Institute in 2013. Since then she has participated in Career Exploration, Civic Engagement, and in two EXCEL leadership workshops. She has been a member of the Youth Advisory Council since 2013 and served as the 2015-2016 Chair. Alyssa was also 1 of 7 delegates chosen to represent the youth and their concerns of Southwest Louisiana to our Congressional Delegation in Washington D.C.
She has volunteered to better our community, in ways such as a clean-up day at Sam Houston Jones State Park and serving at Abraham’s Tent. She has worked to have a positive influence on those younger than her with the “Read for the Record” programs at Cypress Cove and Henry Heights Elementary Schools and with the children at the Calcasieu Woman’s Shelter. Alyssa was also a leader in her high school serving as Secretary of Student Council, a member of the National Honor Society, Students for Life and the Library Society.
Alyssa is the daughter of Rick and Ann Norwood and attends Our Lady Queen of Heaven Catholic Church where she is a member of the Diocese Lake Charles Core Team. She has been described as eager, positive, and ambitious.
Alyssa has been accepted to Louisiana State University and has plans to study Biochemistry.
Jalyn Thomas graduated from Barbe High School in 2016. She began her participation with The Leadership Center through the Civic Engagement Institute in 2013 as well. Since then she has gone on to be a mentor for Civic Engagement, has participated in Career Exploration and the EXCEL Leadership Workshop. She has been a member of the Youth Advisory Council since 2013, serving as Parliamentarian from 2015-2016. Jalyn has bettered our community in numerous ways including; being a part of a school supplies drive, a play date at the women’s shelter, at “Santa’s Workshop”, participating in “Read for the Record” at Cypress Cove and Henry Heights Elementary Schools. She also a member of The New Shiloh Baptist Church.
Jalyn was just as committed to her school activities, participating in Future Business Leaders of America, Chemistry Club, and The National Society of High School Scholars. She has received awards for 1st place in district Literary Rally for Environmental Science, Sports Manager of the Year, Citizenship Award, and the Advanced Placement Scholar Award.
Jalyn is the daughter of Barry and Renae Thomas. She is outgoing and friendly, and has committed herself to helping those less fortunate. She has been accepted to McNeese State University and has plans to study Early Childhood Education.
Dr. Edgar McCanless was awarded the Humanitarian of the Year award
Dr. Edgar McCanless has been practicing Pediatrics in Lake Charles since 1957. He began his career at the Lake Charles Memorial Hospital before he moved his practice to the Children’s Clinic in 1981 where he practiced until retiring in 2014 after serving this community for 59 years.
During his tenure, he was able to watch a small hospital, and the community around it, grow into the regional hospital and thriving city it is today.
Before coming to Lake Charles, Dr. McCanless was a native of Canton, Georgia. He attended Duke University in North Carolina for his undergraduate and later he later attended the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia for his Medical Degree. Dr. McCanless’s dedication to his Alma Mater has continued through the years, he is a supporter of the Duke Chapel and the Duke Children’s Hospital.
Upon completing his education, Dr. McCanless was drafted into the Air Force during the Korean Conflict. The draft brought him to Barksdale Air Force Base in Shreveport where he was put in charge of Pediatrics. During his time at Barksdale, Dr. McCanless met his wife Mary. When his time in the service was over the couple relocated to Lake Charles where Dr. McCanless had been offered a position at the Lake Charles Medical and Surgical Clinic, now known as Lake Charles Memorial Hospital. He is a member of the Louisiana State Medical Society, the Calcasieu Parish Medical Society, American Academy of Pediatrics, and the Louisiana Chapter of AAP.
Dr. McCanless’s disposition to serve others did not stop at the hospital doors. His commitment to children quickly spread to serving as a medical consultant for Head Start and providing health exams for children every summer for the Boys Scouts of America. He served on the board of Big Brothers Big Sisters for several years, and has been involved with the Children’s Advocacy Center since its integration with Family & Youth in 1998, serving on the Advisory Council. He is an active member of the Multi-Disciplinary team, where his knowledge of pediatric health and experience with child abuse cases is an asset to the team and the CAC. As a valued team member he offers suggestions on cases where the injury received may be in question, as to whether it was abuse or an accident, as well as expert testimony though the years on child abuse cases in court. Over the years he has supported many of Family & Youth’s events including Dinner at Mi CASA and the Harlequin Autism Dinners. Donations to Family & Youth have been made in his honor.
Dr. McCanless was an active member of the Rotary Club of Lake Charles, further serving his community through their various initiatives and projects. He also supports other local organizations though donation of either treasure or time, including the Literary Council of Southwest Louisiana, The Boy Scouts, and the Lake Charles Symphony. In 2000 Family & Youth honored Dr. McCanless with the Pinnacle Light of Hope Award and in 2015 he was honored with the Charles Downing award by the Southwest Louisiana Law Center.